The Moravian Diet and Political Elites in Moravia 1848–1918
“We assume that democracy is characterized, not by the absence of all élite strata, but rather by a new mode of élite selection and a new self-interpretation of the élite.”
Karl Mannheim,Essays on the Sociology of Culture (London, 1956), 200.
By the second half of the nineteenth century, modernization in the Habsburg monarchy had advanced to such an extent that at this point the widespread expansion of civic society began.1 Along with other consequences this process also brought a gradual shift in the elites. During the first half of the nineteenth century the traditional elites were still typical of the patrimonial society and the power structure of the absolutist state, and distinguished by unity in ancestry, property and prestige. However, they were gradually being replaced by new elites recruited for their abilities, education and level of public involvement in the emergent civic society.2 One essential factor in this development was the introduction ← 101 | 102 → of constitutionality, parliamentarianism and basic civil rights, as well as the more general development of public and political life, which ensured that the choice of elites would not be based on family and property alone but was also dependent on exceptional ability in industry, finance, trade and agriculture, as well as in academic and tertiary spheres, and public activity. Needless to say, this process was far from simple and straightforward. Under the heterogeneous social and national conditions of the respective countries of the monarchy, the status and...
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